Larger than life figure
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The stranger is most remarkable because he is entirely green, and the poet devotes nearly 100 lines to a meticulous description of his appearance.
Giant-like with an enormous green beard, the stranger nevertheless carries an air of handsome civility, wearing sumptuous green and gold clothes and armor. His horse is equally decked in ornate green, and the knight himself holds a branch of holly in one hand and a formidable battle-axe in the other. He demands, somewhat arrogantly, to speak to the ruler of the company, while the court stares on in stunned silence. When Arthur finally speaks, the stranger explains that he has come to this famously valiant court to play a Christmas game. Whoever agrees to play this game will be allowed to strike the Green Knight on the spot, in the middle of the court; in exchange, the Green Knight will strike a return blow upon the volunteer a year and a day hence. None of the court volunteers as the game seems to imply certain death for whomever plays; the stranger ridicules them all for Camelot's supposed bravery. Eventually Arthur agrees to play the game, but as he is about to wield the great battle-axe, Gawain speaks. In polite and self-effacing language, Gawain begs to take up the boon instead, so the life of the king can be spared in place of a knight as weak and lowly as he. T